By Ashleigh / Jan 16, 2023
1. Entitled Passengers
With air travel, we can cover vast distances in mere hours by soaring above the clouds. But even with this technological marvel, there’s always someone on every flight who demands more of their magical gravity-defying experience.
Some people had it worse than others, and this article shows some of the worst examples. Listed below are some true stories about really entitled airline passengers.
2. Through Email
While on a flight, I sat next to a middle-aged man who appeared to be on a business trip based on his attire. He arrived late to the Southwest flight and had a roller carry-on in addition to his laptop bag.
He tried to fit the carry-on into the overhead bin but did so in a way that showed complete disregard for the other items already in the bin. He simply tried to force it in by smashing it against everything.
The flight attendant approached him and politely said, “Sir, I don’t think it will fit. The flight is rather full, so I’ll need to check your bag.” The businessman responded snootily, and the flight attendant repeated his request.
This went on for about 5 minutes, with the businessman insisting that his bag be placed in the overhead bin. As he became more agitated, the flight attendant eventually said, “Okay, how about you let me try?” When the businessman handed him the bag, the flight attendant immediately took it and walked away saying, “I’m sorry sir, we’ll have to check this.”
The businessman had a fit but eventually took his seat next to me. I noticed him immediately pull out his laptop and start typing an email to Southwest customer service, complaining about the “rude and abusive behavior” of the flight attendant, whom he named (having read his name tag).
He also complained about being “publicly embarrassed.” Seeing this, I also pulled out my laptop and drafted an email to Southwest customer service.
I included the businessman’s name, which he had included in his email, and commented on how polite and professional the flight attendant was.
I also mentioned that the businessman, who was too old to throw a fit, should have just taken his seat and prepared for takeoff instead of causing a scene. I still feel good about sending that email.
3. Not Following The Rules
As a flight attendant, it can be frustrating when I have to remind a passenger to stow their purse underneath the seat in front of them, only to be met with resistance. Even after explaining that this is a federal aviation regulation, some people still argue as if it’s just my personal preference.
It’s understandable that they want to know the reasoning behind this rule, so I try to explain that during an emergency evacuation, a purse left on an armrest can cause delays for not only the owner but also those behind them.
In most cases, people understand the importance of following the regulations and complying after being reminded. However, I once had a passenger who continued to argue and even bragged about the expensive, handmade, Italian nature of their purse.
While it’s great that they have a nice purse, I couldn’t help but think about how they were implying that their bag was more valuable than the safety of those around them. I couldn’t say this, so I had to approach the situation in a way that would appeal to their self-interest. I asked them if their purse was more important to them than being able to take the flight.
When they asked if I was serious, I started to walk toward the open cockpit to inform the captain that we had a passenger who was unwilling to follow the rules. Fortunately, the passenger eventually complied.
When I was young (starting at age 6), I often flew as an unaccompanied minor to visit my mom every other weekend. My mom told me that I once reported to her that I had a great flight and sat next to a nice man in a fancy suit, whom I entertained by singing and telling jokes.
I also have a distinct memory of receiving a harmonica as a gift for Christmas and proudly playing it while we were on the runway. I apparently received an ovation when I finished.
5. An Interesting Read
I once had the experience of sitting next to a very large woman on a flight. Despite both of us being well-dressed, she seemed uninterested in engaging in conversation with me and gave me a disgusted look. In an effort to pass the time, I pulled out a book to read.
Unfortunately for her, the book happened to be about airline disasters and featured a picture of a 747 with a cruise missile going through its side on the cover. She was not pleased.
6. Not Your Seat
Every so often we get the odd straggler who boards last and finds a vacant seat in first or business thinking that we won’t know that they are from the coach class.
“Excuse me sir may I see your boarding pass…. sorry your seat is 58A, not 1A.” “But I’m so tall, I need the legroom.” Awkward silence…
7. Not A Hotel
My girlfriend’s mom is a flight attendant. One time a woman got quite angry because her daughter spilled apple juice all over and there was not a clothes dryer on the plane for her daughter’s sweater.
Can you imagine that? This woman wanted a clothes dryer. She wasn’t even in the first class. Not that would have made a difference.
8. Not In Control Of The Clouds
I was on this flight with severe turbulence that lasted for about 10 minutes. The old woman sitting next to me pressed her call button so the flight attendant would come.
When the flight attendant arrived to check on her, the woman started shouting and accused the pilot of not knowing what they were doing. She claimed to have been flying her whole life and blamed the rough flight on their incompetence. The flight attendant simply walked away without saying anything.
I was once stranded at Newark airport for 22 hours after a flight I was on was canceled due to an unfixable fault. We were put up in a hotel for the night, but understandably, everyone was tired and agitated by the time the new flight was scheduled to depart.
As we were waiting to board, the flight attendant announced that they would be boarding passengers with additional needs and families with young children first, followed by first class, and then premium economy, etc. This is a standard practice on most airlines, as it can take longer for passengers in wheelchairs to board.
However, a business traveler rushed to the front of the crowd and began yelling at the attendant, complaining that he had already lost a day due to their incompetence and now had to wait even longer, despite being a first-class passenger who paid a lot of money to fly with them.
He even looked to others in the crowd for support, as if it was completely reasonable to scream at the attendant, who, like the rest of us, had also been stranded and probably had very little sleep.
Despite his awful behavior, the attendant remained calm and smiled, then made a point of leaning into her microphone to announce that this gentleman needed to board before the passengers in wheelchairs and mothers with babies and asked them to please wait.
Every person at the gate looked at the man with disgust as he tried to backtrack and claim that he didn’t mind waiting for the first group. The attendant firmly told him that he had made himself clear and asked him to board while the other passengers would have to wait. The man was humiliated as he walked by sheepishly. The attendant handled the situation perfectly.
10. Asking To Move
Sometimes a couple will book separate seats, with the man in a premium economy seat with extra legroom and the woman in a normal economy seat. The woman will then try to make the other passenger into giving up their comfortable seat so that the couple can sit together.
If the other passenger refuses (often because they paid extra for their seat and don’t fit in a regular seat), the couple may even try to complain to the crew to force them to move the other passenger.
All of this is done to save a few dollars on the cost of the second premium economy seat. It’s important to note that crew members will not move passengers simply because they are sitting next to someone else’s spouse, and they definitely will not move someone from a premium economy seat.
11. Email War
I was on a flight where a middle-aged gentlemen wound up sitting next to me. Obviously on a business trip from his attire. He’s late getting to the Southwest flight, and he’s got a roller carry on (in addition to his laptop bag). He starts trying to shove it, forcefully, in to an overhead bin.
He does it in a way that shows a complete disregard for the other items already in the bin. Just trying to smash it against everything to get it in. The flight attendant comes up, and politely says, sir, I don’t think it’s going to fit, and the flight is rather full, I think I will need to check your bag.
The business man gives him a snooty response, the flight attendant repeats. This goes on for about 5 minutes, with the business man insisting that his bag goes in to the overhead bin. The business guy is getting more agitated.
I noticed him immediately take out his laptop and get in to his email, and start typing an email to SW customer service, complaining about the rude and abusive behavior of the flight attendant, by name (he’d read his name tape) and about how he had been ‘publicly embarrassed’.
Seeing this happen, and already having my laptop out, I also immediately drafted an email to SW Customer Service. The guy put his full name in his email, so I had his name. So I sent an email to customer service, saying that I’m watching my seatmate, >insert name< currently sending a very nasty email about >flight attendant<.
I made sure to comment on how polite and professional the flight attendant was, and that >insert name< was far too old to be throwing a hissy fit when we’re trying to get people in the seats to pull back from the gate. I still feel good about it.
12. Bag Bother
Im a flight attendant. It really bothers me when I tell someone something simple, for example, “I need you to stow your purse underneath the seat in front of you,” and they argue, as if it’s my personal preference.
I always very sweetly explain that it’s a federal aviation regulation, and sometimes even then, people argue. Why? They want to know. And that’s fair. So I tell them, “If we need to evacuate the aircraft, your purse could get caught on an armrest and slow not only you down, but all of the people behind you.”
Usually, at this point people comply. But I had one lady continue past that point, telling me how expensive, and handmade, and Italian her purse was.
Which is neat, good for her, but all I could think was, “Wow. You are seriously implying that a bag you carry crap in is more valuable than the lives of those around you… The balls you must have, ma’am.”
But I can’t say that. I can only think it. I had to put it to her in selfish terms and in a mental space that she appeared to be in. “Is your purse more important than you being on this flight?” I asked her. She asked me if I was serious.
I started walking towards the open cockpit (we were still parked at the gate getting ready for taxi) to tell my captains we had someone unwilling to comply, and she yelled. “I did it. Are you happy now.” I wasn’t, but we were able to taxi at that point.
13. Harmonica Soundtrack
As a young kid (starting at age 6) I flew as an unaccompanied minor every other weekend to go see my mom. I don’t remember this, but my mom told me one time she asked how my flight was; “Great! I sat next to this nice man in a fancy suit… I sang him some of my songs, told him some of my jokes…”
I also remember one time I got a harmonica for Christmas one year… you best believe I whipped that bad boy out while we were taxiing the runway… I got an ovation when I stopped lol
14. A Gripping Read
Had a very large woman sit next to me once. She was very well dressed, as was I. I tried to strike up a casual conversation with her, and she just looked at me like I was a pile of dog poop on the sidewalk.
Soooo….I pulled out a book to read…of course it was an airline disaster book. On the cover was a picture of a 747 with a cruise missile going through the side of it. She was not amused.
15. Stick to Your Ticket
Every so often we get the odd straggler who boards last who finds a vacant seat in first or business thinking that we won’t know that they are from coach.
“Excuse me sir may I see your boarding pass…. sorry your seat is 58A not 1A.” “But I’m so tall, I need the leg room.” Awkward silence…
16. This is a Plane, Not a Hotel
My girlfriend’s mom is a flight attendant. One time a woman got quite angry because her daughter spilled apple juice all over and there was not a clothes dryer on the plane for her daughters sweater.
17. Pilots Do Not Control the Clouds
I was on a flight with really bad turbulence. It went on for about 10 minutes then the old lady next to me reaches up and presses her button.
Attendant walks over to see if the woman is okay, the woman begins to yell at the attendant for the rough flight and that she’s been flying her whole life and clearly the pilot has no idea what he’s doing. The stewardess just walked away.
18. Perfect Justice
I once got stranded at Newark for 22 hours(!) after our flight had an unfixable fault and was cancelled late at night. We got put up in a hotel but understandably by the time the new flight rolled around (earliest they could fit in a new flight) everyone was quite tired and agitated.
As we are waiting to board the new flight the flight attendant announces they would be boarding people with additional needs and families with young children first, followed by first class, then premium economy etc etc.
All pretty standard stuff, obviously it can take a bit longer for people in wheelchairs to board so makes sense for them to go on first – it’s common on most airlines I believe.
Anyway this business dude races to the front of the crowd and starts yelling at the attendant, saying it was already DISGUSTING that he had lost a day due to their INCOMPETENCE and now he had to WAIT even longer despite being a first class passenger and paying $$$$ every year to fly with them!!
The worst part is he’s looking at others in the crowd to back him up, like it’s perfectly reasonable to scream at this woman who like us had also been stranded and had most likely had very little sleep, and was doing her best to do her job in this difficult situation.
But she was awesome, without missing a beat she smiled and nodded and said ok sir, then made a big point of leaning into her mic and telling the waiting line of people in wheelchairs and mothers with babies that this gentleman needed to board before them and could they please wait.
Literally every single person at the gate is looking at this guy with disgust as he tries to backtrack and say he doesn’t mind waiting for the first group, but the attendant says no no you made yourself quite clear – let’s get you boarded, the others will have to wait. He is humiliated as he sheepishly walks by. She handled it perfectly.
19. Sneaky Trick
Couple will book separate seats, the man in a premium economy seat with extra leg room, the woman in a normal economy seat. The woman will then play the sad sack and ask another passenger to give up their comfy seat so they can sit together.
If the other passenger refuses (usually because they paid extra and literally don’t fit in a regular seat), some will even complain to the crew to make them move the other passenger. And all this to save a few bucks on the second Premium seat.
No, crew don’t move passengers because they’re sitting next to someone else’s spouse. And certainly not from a Premium Economy seat.
20. Lack of Control
Mid – 90s. There was this kid in customs (Toronto to Houston flight) who was going nuts. He driving people crazy in the departure area. On the flight, he had a full-sized metal Tonka truck that he was running up and down the aisle with. He smacked me on the head and nearly hit my Mom in front of me.
I grabbed it before he could hit my very frail and on blood thinners Mom. I gave it to a crew member who refused to give it back to the family. The family refused to seat him, until it was announced that there would be no food or beverage service until the aisle was cleared.
Another woman grabbed the kid and returned him to his family. They let him run loose again as soon as service was over. Finally, someone from the cockpit had to come back and tell the family we couldn’t start the landing approach until the brat was in his seat.
They put him in his seat – screaming bloody murder. As soon as decent started they let him up and he was running up and down the aisle as we landed.
The family was so dense that when the captain ordered everyone to stay in their darn seats and that only families with small children would be allowed to deplane at first – they smirked their way down the aisle. Mom walked with a cane, and the crush getting off was hard for her.
Since we were home we just waited till the aisles were clear. When we got off, you could hear the kid screaming 1/2 way down the jetway. A police officer was holding him and the rest of the family (I’m guessing Mom, Dad, and 2 grandparents) were in handcuffs.
21. Kick Kick Kick
Few years back, I had a 7 hours flight and a kid was sitting behind me who kept kicking the seat. I to decided just wait it, maybe he’ll eventually stop. Nope. It went on for about hour until I couldn’t take it anymore.
10 years of my regular flying, this was the first time I called and complained to an air hostess. She apologized to me and asked the family behind me up keep it down. They just stared at her and did nothing.
The moment she went away, that little brat started kicking again, and I couldn’t take it anymore and turned back and said loudly the family, “could you please make him stop doing that”.
The father (I presume) said sorry and still nothing. Kid kept going on, so finally I called the flight attendant and asked her is there any other seat available because I “they are not listening or have any common decency”, pointing to the family at back.
She came back after few minutes and proceeded to take me to the first class. My very first experience in the luxury section. The worse thing is, she kept apologizing to me and I kept asking her to stop, that it was not her fault.
I once watched a very well-dressed businessman have an epic toddler-level tantrum at a check-in counter when he was advised his flight was delayed due to fog. He literally screamed and jumped up and down, and demanded that the the airline “better do something about it or ELSE!”
The guy working behind the counter just smirked and suggested that business guy was welcome to go outside and try and flap the fog away with his arms. Entire queue burst out laughing.
23. Adventures in Babysitting
I was a kid flying out to Utah to start my teen tour. About halfway through the flight (departing out of NY) the captain got on the speaker to announce an engine had failed and we needed to make an emergency landing in Chicago. Needless to say, we got a little concerned.
Except for one passenger, who stormed up to the flight attendant and explained she was a nanny and needed to get to Utah to attend to the children she took care of.
I’m not exactly sure what she was hoping, that the pilot, upon hearing that a babysitter was on board would risk the lives of everyone to fly us all through, or that the flight attendant would be so moved by this story that she would climb out on the wing and repair the engine mid-flight.
Alas, there was no emergency jet pack to give this passenger to blast away from the plane to get to Utah on time, and she was told to sit down.
24. Lack of Respect
Was on a Vegas to Boston flight when a passenger passed away in his sleep. The whole situation was heartbreaking and the flight attendants were clearly shaken. We stopped in NY for emergency personnel to attend to him. The whole process was very quick and and the pilot and staff handled it like champs.
Just as we were about to take off a guy in the front row asks the attendant if we would all get free drinks due to the inconvenience. I’ve never wanted to yell at a stranger so much in my life.
25. Blind Ambition
Flight Attendant: “Can you please open your blind all the way? It’s regulation for landing.” Passenger: “No, I want it closed.” This goes on for a minute. Passenger is using his tone to assert that he refuses to open it.
Flight Attendant speed-walks to the handset and her voice comes on over the PA. “Hello, ladies and gentlemen. We’re going to play some trivia today! The question is, why do we keep the blinds open during takeoff and landing?”
And without letting anyone answer she jumps right into, “It’s so we can all keep an eye on the outside of the plane for safety! *click*”
26. Rules are There for a Reason
I fly a lot and I was on a plane where half the plane were ignoring the rules and stuff. When we touched down these people immediately got up walking around and started taking their bags out of the overheads.
Mind you, the plane hasn’t parked it’s just literally touched the floor of the landing strip so its still moving and it’s dangerous for half the people on the plane to be messing around and even worse taking all their heavy bags down above every one else’s heads.
The flight attendants are now desperately trying to get these people to sit down until the plane stops moving and some people were waving their hands at them dismissively.
I think the captain heard the commotion and the flight attendants half yelling because all of a sudden the plane did a VERY abrupt stop which knocked over all the people standing up and then continued to park. The flight attendant then said “this is EXACTLY why we have rules.”
27. Pizza Brat
I was on a flight from NYC to PDX. Only empty seat was next to me, a middle seat. Bulkhead but the kind where there isn’t a wall, just the first class seats in front of us.
Door is about to close when a large sweaty man comes running onto the plane to claim the empty seat. He was carrying a full size pizza box…
All overhead bins were already closed (and full) but that didn’t stop him from proceeding to open them to find a place to stash his pizza. The stewardess kindly informed him that he couldn’t put his pizza in an overhead bin. “But it’ll get stepped on!” he gruffly informs her.
She proceeded to tell him to take his seat and put the pizza in front of him. He told her that he flies with pizza all the time and has never been treated this way. He persisted but as their argument was getting pretty heated he finally succumbed and put the pizza under the seat in front of him and sat down.
The stewardesses have now started the safety video/demonstration and he pulls out a flip phone and proceeds to make a call. I can tell he’s going through menus, so I’m thinking he’s calling delta to complain. Nope, turns out to be his landline phone company.
He had been late paying his bill and was trying to get them to waive the late fee. They wouldn’t. He is arguing with them. Plane has pushed back from the gate and is headed toward the runway at this point. Stewardess comes over and tells him he needs to put his phone away NOW.
He then decides to stretch. I’m pretty much plastered to the wall trying to stay out of his way as he extends his arms up, and then to the side, etc. and then twists in his seat back and forth, clearly agitated.
In that whole knuckle cracking process he flips a middle finger toward the flight attendant. I didn’t notice her reaction as I was just waiting to get this 6 hour flight underway and over with. Next thing I know, I can tell we’re pulling back into the gate.
“Flight attendants prepare for arrival and cross check” message. Door opens. Cockpit door opens. Captain comes to our row. “Sir, I understand you were harassing my flight attendant. I need you to leave the plane now.”
“Flight attendants prepare for arrival and cross check” message. Door opens. Cockpit door opens. Captain comes to our row. “Sir, I understand you were harassing my flight attendant. I need you to leave the plane now.”
28. Time Wasters
I was on a plane at the Burbank airport and a family that was on stand by boarded the plane without being told they’d be on the flight. They proceeded to go passenger to passenger trying to get people to de-board the plane so they can use their stand by tickets.
They argued with the flight attendants. It was at least 45 minutes of us sitting on a plane on a runway listening to this family of idiots argue about how they “need” to be on this flight because they have somewhere to go.
I was on my way home from Vegas, and was hungover, and I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to punch someone more than I did in that moment.
29. Dress Disaster
I had someone have a meltdown because I had to have them properly stow their wedding dress. The thing was massive and spilling into the aisle, blocking seats of the entire row.
They may have had to pay the hotel to get the wrinkles out but I likely saved them from shoe prints and beverage cart rollers going back and forth over it. Still she was in tears and I was not going to risk others safety including my own.
30. Aisle Trap
I once flew from Chicago to Israel (very long flight with a stop in the middle) with a woman who didn’t seem to understand that everyone around her was in the same situation she was in.
She dropped a number of passive-aggressive gems over the course of our day together, but the worst one was right when we were being seated for the first leg. The plane was one of those 3X5X3 setups, with aisles on each side of the five-seat section, and this woman was seated in the middle of the five-seat section.
“But you can’t seat me in the middle! What if I need to get up and walk around and the people next to me are asleep?! I’ll be very uncomfortable for this whole flight!”
….wow, lady! You figured out why flying kind of sucks all by yourself! Now sit down and start pretending you’re not here like the rest of us.